The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Gene Falk Specialist in Social Policy Margot L. Crandall-Hollick Analyst in Public Finance December 3, 2014 Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43805 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Summary The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit available to eligible workers earning relatively low wages. Because the credit is refundable, an EITC recipient need not owe taxes to receive the benefit. Eligibility for and the amount of the EITC are based on a variety of factors, including residence and taxpayer ID requirements, the presence of qualifying children, age requirements for childless recipients, and the recipient’s investment income and earned income. Tax filers with income above certain thresholds—these thresholds are based on marital status and number of qualifying children—are ineligible for the credit. The EITC varies based on a recipient’s earnings. Specifically, the EITC equals a fixed percentage (the “credit rate”) of earned income until the credit amount reaches its maximum level. The EITC then remains at its maximum level over a subsequent range of earned income, between the “earned income amount” and the “phase-out amount threshold.” Finally, the credit gradually decreases to zero at a fixed rate (the “phase-out rate”) for each additional dollar of adjusted gross income (AGI) (or earnings, whichever is greater) above the phase-out amount threshold. The specific values of these EITC parameters (e.g., credit rate, earned income amount) vary depending on several factors, including the number of qualifying children a tax filer has and his or her marital status. For 2014, the maximum EITC for a tax filer without children is $496 per year. In contrast, the 2014 maximum EITC for a tax filer with one child is $3,305 per year; for two children, $5,460 per year; and for three or more children, $6,143 per year. The EITC is provided to individuals and families once a year, in a lump sum payment after individuals and families file their federal income tax return. The credit may be received in one of three ways: (1) a reduction in federal tax liability; (2) a refund from the Treasury if the tax filer has no income tax liability; or (3) a combination of a reduced federal tax liability and a refund. The amount of the credit a tax filer receives is based on the prior year’s income, earnings, and family composition (marital status and number of qualifying children). That is, the EITC paid in 2015 will be based on factors from 2014. The EITC cannot be counted as income in determining eligibility for or the amount of any federally funded public benefit program. An EITC refund that is saved by a tax filer does not count against the resource limits of any federally funded public benefit program for 12 months after the refund is received. In 2012, a total of $64.1 billion was claimed by 27.8 million tax filers (19% of all tax filers), making the EITC the largest need-tested anti-poverty cash assistance program. In that year, 97% of all EITC dollars were claimed by families with children. However, there was considerable variation in the share of returns claiming the EITC by state, with a greater share filed in certain southern states compared to other regions of the country. Congressional Research Service The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Contents Introduction...................................................................................................................................... 1 Eligibility for the EITC .................................................................................................................... 1 Filing a Federal Income Tax Return .......................................................................................... 2 Earned Income ........................................................................................................................... 2 Residency and Identification Requirements .............................................................................. 3 Qualifying Children ................................................................................................................... 3 Age Requirements for EITC Recipients with No Qualifying Children ..................................... 4 Investment Income .................................................................................................................... 4 Disallowance of the EITC Due to Fraud or Reckless Disregard of Rules................................. 4 Calculating the EITC ....................................................................................................................... 4 Income Limits for the EITC ...................................................................................................... 7 Payment of the EITC ....................................................................................................................... 8 Interaction with Other Tax Provisions ....................................................................................... 9 Treatment of the EITC for Need-Tested Benefit Programs ..................................................... 10 Modifications to the EITC Set to Expire ....................................................................................... 10 Participation and Benefits .............................................................................................................. 11 Trends in Participation and EITC Benefits .............................................................................. 11 Participation and EITC Amounts Claimed for 2012................................................................ 13 Number of Qualifying Children ........................................................................................ 14 Income Level ..................................................................................................................... 16 Filing and Marital Status ................................................................................................... 17 Region ............................................................................................................................... 18 Figures Figure 1. Maximum EITC by Number of Qualifying Children: 2014 ............................................. 5 Figure 2. Amount of the EITC for an Unmarried Tax Filer with One Child, 2014 ......................... 7 Figure 3. Number of Tax Filers Claiming the EITC: 1975 to 2012 ............................................... 12 Figure 4. EITC Claimed on Federal Income Tax Returns: 1975-2012 .......................................... 12 Figure 5. Average EITC Claimed: 1975 to 2012 ........................................................................... 13 Figure 6. Total EITC Dollars Claimed for 2012, by Number of Qualifying Children................... 14 Figure 7. Number of Tax Returns with EITC Claims for 2012, by Number of Qualifying Children ...................................................................................................................................... 15 Figure 8. Average EITC Claimed by Tax Filers in 2012, by Number of Qualifying Children ...................................................................................................................................... 15 Figure 9. Number of Returns Claiming the EITC and Average EITC Claimed for 2012, by Adjusted Gross Income .............................................................................................................. 17 Figure 10. Estimate of EITC Dollars Claimed by Marital Status, 2015 ........................................ 18 Figure 11. Percentage of Tax Returns Claiming the EITC by State, 2012..................................... 19 Congressional Research Service The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Tables Table 1. EITC Tax Parameters by Marital Status and Number of Qualifying Children for 2014 .............................................................................................................................................. 5 Table 2. Maximum AGI to Qualify for the EITC, by Number of Qualifying Children and Filing Status in 2014 ..................................................................................................................... 8 Table A-1. EITC Tax Filers and Dollars Claimed: 1975-2012 ...................................................... 20 Table A-2. Average EITC, Number of Returns with EITC Claimed, and Total EITC Benefits for 2012, by Adjusted Gross Income ............................................................................ 21 Table A-3. Total EITC Returns and Amounts for 2012, by State................................................... 23 Appendixes Appendix. Additional Tables ......................................................................................................... 20 Contacts Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 24 Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................... 24 Congressional Research Service The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Introduction The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit available to eligible workers with relatively low earnings. Because the credit is refundable, an EITC recipient need not owe taxes to receive the benefit. The credit is authorized by Section 32 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and administered as part of the federal income tax system. In 2012, a total of $64.1 billion was claimed by 27.8 million tax filers, making the EITC the largest need-tested anti-poverty cash assistance program. Under current law, the EITC is calculated based on a recipient’s earned income, using one of eight different formulas, which vary depending on several factors, including the number of qualifying children a tax filer has (zero, one, two, or three or more) and his or her marital status (unmarried or married). All else being equal, the amount of the credit tends to increase with the number of eligible children the EITC claimant has. Indeed, most of the benefits of the EITC— 97% of EITC dollars in 2012—go to families with children. This report provides an overview of the EITC, first discussing eligibility requirements for the credit, followed by how the credit is computed and paid. The report then provides data on the growth of the EITC since it was first enacted in 1975. Finally the report concludes with data on the EITC claimed on 2012 tax returns, examining EITC claims by number of qualifying children, income level, tax filing status, and location of residence. For a discussion of legislation introduced in the 113th Congress to change the EITC, see CRS Report R43763, The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): Legislation in the 113th Congress, by Margot L. Crandall-Hollick. Eligibility for the EITC A tax filer must fulfill the following requirements to claim the EITC: 1. The tax filer must file a federal income tax return.1 2. The tax filer must have earned income. 3. The tax filer must meet certain residency and identification requirements. 4. The tax filer’s children must meet relationship, residency, and age requirements to be considered qualifying children for the credit. 5. Childless workers who claim the credit must be between ages 25 and 64. (This age requirement does not apply to EITC claimants with qualifying children.) 6. The tax filer’s investment income must be below a certain amount. 7. The tax filer must not be disallowed the credit due to prior fraud or reckless disregard of the rules when they previously claimed the EITC. Additionally, a tax filer with income above a certain dollar amount (labelled as “income where credit=0” in Table 1) will be ineligible for the credit. Given that this income level is dependent on 1 A tax filer who is claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return is ineligible for the EITC. Congressional Research Service 1 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview the number of qualifying children and marital status of the tax filer, this requirement is discussed in greater detail in the section of the report entitled “Calculating the EITC.” Requirements (1) through (7) are discussed in detail below. Filing a Federal Income Tax Return To be eligible for the EITC, a person must file a federal income tax return. Those who do not file a federal income tax return cannot receive the EITC. The EITC can be claimed by taxpayers filing their tax return as married filing jointly, head of household, or single.2 Tax filers cannot claim the EITC if they use the filing status of married filing separately. If the tax filer has a qualifying child, the tax filer must include the child’s name and Social Security number on a separate schedule (Schedule EIC) filed with the federal tax return.3 Earned Income A tax filer must have earned income to claim the EITC. Earned income for the EITC is defined as wages, tips, and other compensation included in gross income. It also includes net selfemployment income (self-employment income after deduction of one-half of Social Security payroll taxes paid by a self-employed individual). In addition, servicemembers may elect to include combat pay in their earnings when calculating the EITC. All income earned by a member of the Armed Forces while in a designated combat zone is considered combat pay and is normally not included in taxable income. However, a tax filer may elect to include combat pay as earnings for the purpose of calculating the EITC.4 Generally, servicemembers will make this election if it results in a larger credit. (Using combat pay to calculate the EITC does not make the combat pay taxable income.) Certain forms of income are not considered earnings for the purpose of the EITC. These include pension and annuity income, income of nonresident aliens not from a U.S. business, income earned while incarcerated for work in a prison, and TANF benefits paid in exchange for participation in work experience or community service activities. Finally, tax filers who claim the foreign earned income exclusion (i.e., they file Form 2555 or Form 2555EZ with their federal income tax return) are ineligible to claim the EITC.5 2 There is an additional filing status that may claim the EITC—“qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.” Generally, tax filers may file their tax return as married filing jointly in the year their spouse died. A tax filer may be eligible to use qualifying widow(er) with dependent child as his or her filing status for two years following the year his or her spouse died. This filing status entitles the tax filer to use joint return tax rates and the highest standard deduction amount (if he or she does not itemize deductions). It does not entitle the tax filer to file a joint return. The tax filer calculates the EITC using the formula for other unmarried tax filing statuses (head of household and single). The eligibility rules for this filing status can be found on page 10 of IRS Publication 501, available at http://www.irs.gov/ pub/irs-pdf/p501.pdf. 3 The 2013 version of this form can be found at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sei.pdf. 4 For more information, see http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Special-EITC-Rules. 5 See Internal Revenue Code (IRC) §32(c)(1)(C) and http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/EITC,-Earned-Income-Tax(continued...) Congressional Research Service 2 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Residency and Identification Requirements Under current law, an EITC recipient must be a resident of the United States, unless the recipient resides in another country because of U.S. military service. To be eligible for the credit, the tax filer must provide valid Social Security numbers (SSNs) for work purposes6 for themselves, spouses if married filing jointly, and any qualifying children. (U.S. citizenship is not required to be eligible for the credit. SSNs do not indicate U.S. citizenship.) Nonresident aliens—those that do not spend sufficient time in the United States—are generally ineligible for the EITC.7 Qualifying Children An EITC recipient’s qualifying child must meet three requirements.8 First, the child must have a specific relationship to the tax filer (son, daughter, step child or foster child,9 brother, sister, halfbrother, half-sister, step brother, step sister, or descendent of such a relative). Second, the child must share a residence with the taxpayer for more than half the year in the United States.10 Third, the child must meet certain age requirements; namely, the child must be under the age of 19 (or age 24, if a full-time student) or be permanently and totally disabled. As a result of these three requirements, a child may be the qualifying child of more than one tax filer in the same household. For example, a child who lives with a single parent, grandparent, and aunt in the same home could be a qualifying child of all three of these individuals. But only one of these individuals can claim the qualifying child for the EITC, and the others cannot. Indeed, it appears that under current law, the other individuals are also ineligible to claim the childless EITC.11 In the case where the tax filers cannot agree on who claims the child, there are “tiebreaker” rules for who can claim the child for the EITC.12 (...continued) Credit,-Questions-and-Answers. 6 For more information on Social Security numbers valid for work purposes, see CRS Legal Sidebar WSLG823, Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for Tax Credit? That is the Question, by Emily M. Lanza, Erika K. Lunder, and Kathleen S. Swendiman and CRS Legal Sidebar WSLG723, They’ve Got Your Number: Who Can Get A Social Security Card, by Kathleen S. Swendiman. 7 For more information, see CRS Report RS21732, Federal Taxation of Aliens Working in the United States, by Erika K. Lunder and http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Determining-Alien-Tax-Status. In addition, for the EITC, a nonresident alien may be eligible to claim the credit if they are married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien, make the election to be treated as a resident alien, and file a joint return. 8 If an individual is the qualifying child for the purposes of the EITC of another person, that individual cannot themselves claim the EITC. For more information, see http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/EITC,-Earned-Income-TaxCredit,-Questions-and-Answers. 9 If placed by an authorized agency or court order. 10 Qualifying children who reside with a servicemember who is stationed outside the United States while serving on extended active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces are considered to reside in the United States for the purposes of the EITC. 11 Currently, there is no Federal regulation which states that taxpayers with a qualifying child who do not claim that qualifying child for the EITC are ineligible for the credit. However, the website of the Internal Revenue Service does state that such individuals are ineligible for the childless EITC. For more information, see http://www.irs.gov/ Individuals/Qualifying-Child-of-More-Than-One-Person. 12 The tie-breaker rules are: (1) if both tax filers are parents of the child, the parent with whom the child resided the longest during the year claims the child for the EITC; (2) if the child resided with each parent for the same amount of time during the year, the parent with the highest adjusted gross income (AGI) claims the child for the EITC; (3) if only (continued...) Congressional Research Service 3 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Age Requirements for EITC Recipients with No Qualifying Children If a tax filer has no qualifying children, he or she must be between 25 and 64 years of age to be eligible for the EITC. There is no age requirement for tax filers with qualifying children. Investment Income A tax filer with investment income over a certain dollar amount is ineligible for the EITC. The statutory limit—$2,200—is adjusted annually for inflation. For 2014, the limit on investment income is $3,350. Investment income is defined as interest income (including tax-exempt interest), dividends, net rent, net capital gains, and net passive income. It also includes royalties that are from sources other than the filer’s ordinary business activities. Disallowance of the EITC Due to Fraud or Reckless Disregard of Rules A tax filer is barred from claiming the EITC for a period of 10 years after the IRS makes a final determination to reduce or disallow a tax filer’s EITC because that individual made a fraudulent EITC claim. A tax filer is barred from claiming the EITC for a period of two years after the IRS determines that the individual made an EITC claim “due to reckless and intentional disregard of the rules” of the EITC, but that disregard was not found to be fraud.13 Calculating the EITC The EITC amount is based on formulas that consider earned income, number of qualifying children, marital status, and adjusted gross income (AGI). In general, the EITC equals a fixed percentage (the “credit rate”) of earned income until the credit reaches it maximum amount. The EITC then remains at its maximum level over a subsequent range of earned income, between the “earned income amount” and the “phase-out amount threshold.” Finally, the credit gradually decreases in value to zero at a fixed rate (the “phase-out rate”) for each additional dollar of earnings or AGI (whichever is greater) above the phase-out amount threshold. The specific values of these EITC parameters (e.g., credit rate, earned income amount, etc.) vary depending on several factors, including the number of qualifying children a tax filer has and his or her marital status, as illustrated in Table 1. (...continued) one tax filer is the parent of the child, the tax filer who is the parent claims the child for the EITC; and (4) if neither tax filer is the parent of the child, the tax filer with the highest AGI claims the child for the EITC. 13 See IRC §32(k). Congressional Research Service 4 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Table 1. EITC Tax Parameters by Marital Status and Number of Qualifying Children for 2014 Number of Qualifying Children 0 1 2 3 or more unmarried tax filers (single and head of household filers) credit rate 7.65% 34% 40% 45% earned income amount $6,480 $9,720 $13,650 $13,650 maximum credit amount $496 $3,305 $5,460 $6,143 phase-out amount threshold $8,110 $17,830 $17,830 $17,830 phase-out rate 7.65% 15.98% 21.06% 21.06% $14,590 $38,511 $43,756 $46,997 credit rate 7.65% 34% 40% 45% earned income amount $6,480 $9,720 $13,650 $13,650 maximum credit amount $496 $3,305 $5,460 $6,143 $13,540 $23,260 $23,260 $23,260 7.65% 15.98% 21.06% 21.06% $20,020 $43,941 $49,186 $52,427 income where credit = 0 married tax filers (married filing jointly) phase-out amount threshold phase-out rate income where credit = 0 Source: IRS Revenue Procedure 2013-35 and Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 32. As illustrated in Table 1, the EITC’s earned income amounts, credit rates, phase-out rates, and maximum credit amounts vary by the number of qualifying children a tax filer has. The EITC ranges from a maximum credit of $496 for a tax filer without a child to $6,143 for a tax filer with three or more qualifying children, as illustrated in Figure 1. Figure 1. Maximum EITC by Number of Qualifying Children: 2014 Source: Congressional Research Service based on IRS Revenue Procedure 2013-35 and Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 32 The phase-out amount threshold varies by both the number of qualifying children a tax filer has and his or her marital status. The phase-out amount threshold for those who are married filing Congressional Research Service 5 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview joint returns is $5,430 greater than for unmarried filing statuses with the same number of children. (Tax filers who file as married filing separately are ineligible for the EITC.) This higher phase-out amount threshold for married tax filers reduces (but generally does not eliminate) potential “marriage penalties” in the EITC whereby the credit for a married couple is less than the combined credit of two unmarried recipients. Figure 2 illustrates the EITC amount by earnings level for an unmarried taxpayer with one child for 2014. It shows the three distinct ranges of EITC for this family: • Phase-in Range: The EITC increases with earnings from the first dollar of earnings up to earnings of $9,720. Over this earnings range, the credit equals the credit rate (34% for a tax filer with one child) times the amount of annual earnings. The $9,720 threshold is called the earned income amount and is the earnings level at which the EITC ceases to increase with earned income. The income interval up to the earned income amount, where the EITC increases with earnings, is known as the phase-in range. • Plateau: The EITC remains at its maximum level of $3,305 from the earned income amount ($9,720) until earnings exceed $17,830. The $3,305 credit represents the maximum credit for a tax filer with one child in 2014. The income interval with the EITC fixed at its maximum value represents the plateau on Figure 2. • Phase-out Range: Once earnings exceed $17,830, the EITC is reduced for every additional dollar over that amount. The $17,830 threshold is known as the phaseout amount threshold for a single taxpayer with one child in 2014. For each dollar over the phase-out amount threshold, the EITC is reduced by 15.98%. The 15.98% rate is known as the phase-out rate. The income interval from the phaseout income level until the EITC is completely phased out is known as the phaseout range. The EITC is completely phased out (EITC = $0) once the tax filer’s AGI (or earned income, whichever is greater) reaches $38,511. The earned income amounts and the phase-out amount thresholds are adjusted each year for inflation. Congressional Research Service 6 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Figure 2. Amount of the EITC for an Unmarried Tax Filer with One Child, 2014 Source: Congressional Research Service, based on information in IRS Revenue Procedure 2013-35 and Internal Revenue Code Section 32 In practice, EITC claimants use tables published by the IRS to calculate their credit amount. A tax filer can look up the correct amount of his or her EITC based on income, marital status, and number of qualifying children. The instructions for the federal income tax form14 show the EITC amounts in tables by income brackets (in $50 increments). Income Limits for the EITC As previously discussed, the amount of the EITC is reduced for each dollar of AGI (or earnings, if greater) above a certain dollar threshold, referred to as the phase-out amount threshold. That threshold, combined with the phase-out rate, results in a specific income level (referred to as “income where credit=0” in Table 1) above which a tax filer is ineligible for the credit. This income level, where the credit reaches zero, is sometimes referred to as the eligibility threshold. As illustrated in Table 1, there are eight eligibility thresholds for the EITC depending on the number of qualifying children a taxpayer has and his or her marital status. The eligibility thresholds vary every year given that they are based in part on a parameter of the credit—the phase-out amount threshold—that is explicitly adjusted for inflation. Table 2 shows the EITC eligibility thresholds for 2014. An EITC claimant’s AGI (or earnings, if higher) must be below these thresholds for the claimant to qualify for the EITC. In 2014, these thresholds range from 14 The tables can be found, for 2013 returns, beginning on page 59 of the Form 1040 general instructions, at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040gi.pdf. Congressional Research Service 7 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview $14,590 for an unmarried tax filer with no qualifying child to $52,427 for a married tax filer filing jointly with three or more qualified children. Table 2 expresses these eligibility thresholds as a percentage of the 2014 poverty guidelines. For example, the poverty guideline for a family of four in 2014 was $23,850. Families of four with income at or below this amount are considered poor. The EITC eligibility threshold of $49,186 for a married couple filing jointly with two qualifying children was more than twice (206.2%) the poverty guideline for a family of that type. Table 2 also expresses these eligibility thresholds as a percentage of the earnings of one worker who works a minimum wage job ($7.25 per hour) 40 hours per week, 52 weeks a year ($15,080 annually). For the purposes of the calculations in Table 2, married EITC recipients are assumed to have the same aggregate annual earnings as unmarried recipients—$15,080. The EITC was available in 2014 to all families at this earnings level except an unmarried taxpayer with no children. The EITC was available to families with children who had earnings between 2.5 to 3.5 times the annual earnings from a minimum wage job (255.4% to 347.7% of $15,080). Table 2. Maximum AGI to Qualify for the EITC, by Number of Qualifying Children and Filing Status in 2014 No Qualifying Children One Qualifying Child Two Qualifying Children Three or More Qualifying Children In dollars Unmarried 14,590 38,511 43,756 46,997 Married Filing Jointly 20,020 43,941 49,186 52,427 As a percentage of the poverty threshold Unmarried 125.0 244.8 221.1 197.1a Married Filing Jointly 127.3 222.0 206.2 187.8b As a percentage of work at the federal minimum wage, 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year Unmarried Married Filing Jointly 96.8 255.4 290.2 311.7 132.8 291.4 326.2 347.7 Source: Congressional Research Service calculations based on IRS Revenue Procedure 2013-35, Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 32 and the 2014 Poverty Guidelines available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/ 14poverty.cfm. a. Represents the EITC AGI threshold divided by the poverty guidelines for a family of 4. b. Represents the EITC AGI threshold divided by the poverty guidelines for a family of 5. Payment of the EITC The EITC is provided to individuals and families annually in a lump sum payment after a taxpayer files a federal income tax return.15 It may be received in one of three ways: 15 Before 2011, any persons with a qualified child eligible for the EITC could elect to receive advance payment of the (continued...) Congressional Research Service 8 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview 1. a reduction in federal tax liability; 2. a cash payment from the Treasury if the tax filer has no tax liability, through a tax refund check; or 3. a combination of reduced federal tax liability and a refund. The majority (88%) of the aggregate amount of the EITC—$64 billion in 2012—is received as a refund.16 In other words, $56 billion of the EITC was received as a refund in 2012, while approximately $8 billion offset tax liabilities. The EITC is taken against all taxes reported17 on the federal individual income tax return (Form 1040) after all nonrefundable credits have been taken. On the tax form, the EITC can be found in the payments section after the lines for withholding and estimated tax payments. The EITC benefits families when they file their income taxes. Thus, payments are generally based on the prior year’s income, earnings, and family composition. That is, the EITC paid in 2015 is generally based on earnings, income, and family composition in 2014. Interaction with Other Tax Provisions On the tax return, the EITC is calculated after total tax liability and all nonrefundable credits. Nonrefundable tax credits, which are taken against (reduce) income tax liability, include credits for education, dependent care, savings, and the nonrefundable portion of the child credit.18 If an EITC-eligible family has a tax liability and can use one or more of these credits, the total amount of their EITC will remain unchanged, but how they receive the credit will change. If nonrefundable tax credits can reduce a family’s tax liability, a greater amount of their EITC will be received as a refund, and less will offset their tax liability since their tax liability is smaller. For tax filers whose income places them in the “phase-out range” of the credit, reducing their income (all else being unchanged) will result in a larger EITC. (As illustrated in Figure 2, reducing income when a tax filer is in the phase-out range results in the tax filer increasing the amount of the credit they receive.) A variety of forms of income can be excluded from both AGI and earned income, reducing a taxpayer’s AGI or earned income for purposes of calculating the credit. For example, pre-tax contributions to savings accounts for retirement or medical expenses are not included in either AGI or earned income. Hence, by making these contributions, EITC claimants whose pre-contribution income places them in the phase-out range of the credit will (...continued) credit through the employer’s payroll withholding system by filing an eligibility certificate (Form W-5) with his or her employer. The option was little used and eliminated by P.L. 111-226. 16 For more information, see IRS Statistics of Income, Table 2.5 at http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats—IndividualStatistical-Tables-by-Size-of-Adjusted-Gross-Income. 17 These taxes include the regular income tax and alternative income tax, as well as self-employment taxes. Less common taxes, like unreported Social Security and Medicare taxes and certain taxes on IRAs, are also included. For an example of these taxes, see lines 56 through 60 on the 2013 IRS Form 1040, http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040.pdf. 18 For more information on the nonrefundable (and refundable) portion of the child tax credit, see CRS Report R41873, The Child Tax Credit: Current Law and Legislative History, by Margot L. Crandall-Hollick. Congressional Research Service 9 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview reduce their AGI or earned income for purposes of calculating the EITC and thus receive a larger credit.19 In contrast, for tax filers whose income places them in the “phase-in range” of the credit, reducing their income (all else unchanged) will result in a smaller EITC. (As illustrated in Figure 2, reducing income when a tax filer is in the phase-in range results in the tax filer reducing the amount of the credit they receive.) Generally, non-taxable income cannot be included in earned income for purposes of calculating the EITC. However, as previously discussed, servicemembers may elect to include their nontaxable combat pay as earnings, for purposes of calculating the EITC. Generally, servicemembers whose income (excluding their combat-pay) places them in the phase-in range will elect to include their combat pay in earned income for purposes of calculating the EITC in order to receive a larger credit. Treatment of the EITC for Need-Tested Benefit Programs By law,20 the EITC cannot be counted as income in determining eligibility for, or the amount of, any federally funded public benefit program including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food assistance, low-income housing, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). An EITC refund that is saved by the filer does not count against the resource limits of any federally funded public benefit program for 12 months after the refund is received. Modifications to the EITC Set to Expire Two temporary modifications to the EITC were enacted by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5). First, ARRA enacted a temporary larger credit for families with three or more children by creating a new higher credit rate of 45% (previously, these tax filers were eligible for a credit rate of 40%). Second, ARRA expanded marriage penalty relief by increasing the earnings level at which the credit phased out for married tax filers in comparison to unmarried tax filers with the same number of children. Before ARRA, the EITC for married tax filers would begin to phase out for earnings $3,000 (adjusted for inflation) greater than the level for unmarried recipients with the same number of children. ARRA increased this differential to $5,000 (adjusted for inflation). In 2014, this marriage penalty relief was equal to $5,430. These two changes were originally scheduled to be in effect only for 2009 and 2010. The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-312) extended these ARRA provisions for two years (2011 and 2012). The American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA; P.L. 112-240) extended the ARRA provisions for five more years (2013-2017). Hence, under current law, beginning in 2018, the larger credit for families with three or more 19 In contrast, if the pre-contribution income places them in the plateau or the phase-in range, decreasing their earned income by making certain pre-tax savings contributions may either have no impact or result in a smaller credit. 20 The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-312) included a provision which made tax refunds, including those resulting from the EITC, disregarded in the administration of federal programs and federally assisted programs. At the end of 2012, this provision was made permanent by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-240). Congressional Research Service 10 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview children will expire and the marriage penalty relief will be reduced from $5,000 (adjusted for inflation) to $3,000 (adjusted for inflation). (Families with three or more children can claim the credit for families with two or more children beginning in 2018.) Participation and Benefits The EITC was first enacted in 1975 as a temporary measure meant to encourage economic growth in the face of the 1974 recession and rising food and energy prices. It was also originally intended to “assist in encouraging people to obtain employment, reducing the unemployment rate, and reducing the welfare rolls.”21 Over time the list of EITC objectives has grown to include poverty reduction. Today the EITC is the largest need-tested, cash benefits anti-poverty program. This section first provides a historical overview of the growth of the EITC from 1975 to 2012; it then examines information on EITC participation for 2012. Trends in Participation and EITC Benefits When originally enacted by the Tax Reduction Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-12), the EITC was a temporary refundable tax credit in effect for 1975. For that year, 6.2 million tax filers claimed the EITC and the total EITC amount claimed was $1.25 billion (in constant 2012 dollars, this equals $5.3 billion). The credit was extended several more times on a temporary basis and made permanent by the Revenue Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-600). Legislation enacted in 1986 (P.L. 99-514), 1990 (P.L. 101-508), 1993 (P.L. 103-66), 2001 (P.L. 107-16), and 2009 (P.L. 111-5) increased the amount of the credit by changing the credit formula. Before 1990, the credit amount was calculated as a percentage of earnings (“the credit rate”) up until the earned income amount. The credit then remained at its maximum level before gradually decreasing in value as earnings increased. Legislative changes to the credit made during this time generally increased the amount of the credit in a variety of ways including increasing the credit rate, increasing the earned income amount, increasing the phase-out amount threshold, and decreasing the phase-out rate. Nonetheless, the credit amount depended on earned income. Beginning in 1990 and more substantially in 1993, the credit formula was revised such that the credit amount varied based on earnings and, to a certain extent, the number of qualifying children. This essentially increased the credit by family size. In addition, for the first time in 1993, Congress made workers without qualifying children eligible for the EITC, although the credit was smaller than the credit for claimants with qualifying children. In 2001, the credit formula was revised again so that it also varied based in part on marital status. As a result of this change, often referred to as “marriage penalty relief,” certain married tax filers would receive a larger credit than unmarried tax filers with the same number of children. In 2009, the marriage penalty relief was expanded further and a larger credit was created for families with three or more children. These 2009 changes were extended several times (most recently by P.L. 112-240) and are currently set to expire at the end of 2017. 21 U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Finance, Tax Reduction Act of 1975, Report to Accompany H.R. 2166, 94th Cong., 1st sess., March 17, 1975, S. Report 94-36, p. 33. Congressional Research Service 11 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Figure 3 shows the number of tax filers claiming the EITC from 1975 to 2012. Figure 4 shows the amount of the EITC claimed on these returns, with dollar amounts adjusted for inflation to represent 2012 dollars. The figures show the effects of the legislative expansions of the EITC, with the credit experiencing growth in the late 1980s through the mid-1990s and then again in the 2000s. As shown on Figure 4, throughout the history of the EITC, most credits have been paid in the form of refunds, with a relatively small share of the EITC reducing regular federal income tax liability. Figure 3. Number of Tax Filers Claiming the EITC: 1975 to 2012 Source: Congressional Research Service. For pre-2003 data, U.S. Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means, 2004 Green Book, Background Material and Data on Programs Within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means, 108th Congress, 2nd session, WMCP 108-6, March 2004, pp.13-41. For 2003 and later data, Internal Revenue Service, Total File, United States, Individual Income and Tax Data, by State and Size of Adjusted Gross Income, 2003 through 2012, expanded unpublished version, Table 2.5. Note: For a tabular display of this information, see Table A-1. Figure 4. EITC Claimed on Federal Income Tax Returns: 1975-2012 Source: Congressional Research Service. For pre-2003 data, U.S. Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means, 2004 Green Book, Background Material and Data on Programs Within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means, 108th Congress, 2nd session, WMCP 108-6, March 2004, pp.13-41. For 2003 and later data, Congressional Research Service 12 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Internal Revenue Service, Total File, United States, Individual Income and Tax Data, by State and Size of Adjusted Gross Income, 2003 through 2012, expanded unpublished version, Table 2.5. Notes: Constant 2012 dollars were computed using the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPIU). For a tabular display of this information, see Table A-1. The growth in the total amount of EITC claimed in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s was due to not only increases in participation, but also in the average credit received by tax filers. Figure 5 shows the average EITC claimed for 1975 to 2012, in inflation-adjusted (2012) dollars. Before the 1986 Tax Reform Act (P.L. 99-514), EITC thresholds were not indexed for inflation, and the average credit lost value each year. However, the 1986 act increased the monetary parameters of the credit for prior inflation and adjusted the threshold amounts and maximum credits annually for inflation in future years. The credit formula was also revised in 1990 and then again in 1993 such that the amount of the credit depended to a certain extent on family size. These changes resulted in an increasing average credit between the late 1980s and late 1990s. Since then, the average credit has largely maintained its real value. However, increases in the average credit amount in 2001 and 2009 were likely due to legislative changes that included larger credits for some married claimants and for families with three or more children.22 Figure 5. Average EITC Claimed: 1975 to 2012 Source: Congressional Research Service. For pre-2003 data, U.S. Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means, 2004 Green Book, Background Material and Data on Programs Within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means, 108th Congress, 2nd session, WMCP 108-6, March 2004, pp.13-41. For 2003 and later data, Internal Revenue Service, Total File, United States, Individual Income and Tax Data, by State and Size of Adjusted Gross Income, 2003 through 2012, expanded unpublished version, Table 2.5. Notes: Constant 2012 dollars were computed using the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPIU). For a tabular display of this information, see Table A-1. Participation and EITC Amounts Claimed for 2012 For 2012, $64.1 billion of the EITC was claimed on 27.8 million tax returns. 22 The increase in the value of the credit in 2009 is likely due to the changes made by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) which expanded the credit for families with three or more children and increased marriage penalty relief. Congressional Research Service 13 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Number of Qualifying Children Most tax filers claiming the EITC, and those who received the most EITC dollars, were families with children. Figure 6 shows total EITC dollars claimed for 2012 by number of qualifying children. For 2012, 3% of all EITC dollars were claimed by tax filers with no qualifying children and 97% were claimed by tax filers with qualifying children. Of this 97%, 36% were claimed by tax filers with one qualifying child, 40% were claimed by tax filers with two qualifying children, and 21% were claimed by tax filers with three or more qualifying children. Figure 6.Total EITC Dollars Claimed for 2012, by Number of Qualifying Children Dollars in Billions, Total EITC Claimed = $64.1 Billion Source: Congressional Research Service, based on data from the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, SOI Tax Stats - Individual Income Tax Returns Publication 1304, Table 2.5. Though childless tax filers claimed 3% of all EITC dollars for 2012, they accounted for close to one-fourth of all tax filers that claimed the EITC. Thus, their small share of total EITC dollars reflects, in part, the lower credit amount available to childless filers. Figure 7 shows the number of returns claiming the EITC for 2012 by number of qualifying children. Figure 8 shows the average EITC claimed for 2012 by number of qualifying children, with the overall average amount of the EITC claimed being $2,303. The average EITC for 2012 increased with the number of qualifying children a tax filer claimed: • The EITC was claimed by 6.9 million tax filers with no qualifying children, with an average claim of $267. • The EITC was claimed by 10.2 million filers with one qualifying child, with an average claim of $2,245. • The EITC was claimed by 7.3 million filers with two qualifying children, with an average claim of $3,547. • The EITC was claimed by 3.5 million filers with three or more qualifying children, with an average claim of $3,872. Congressional Research Service 14 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Figure 7. Number of Tax Returns with EITC Claims for 2012, by Number of Qualifying Children Number in Millions, Total Number of Returns Claiming the EITC = 27.8 million Source: Congressional Research Service, based on data from the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Services, SOI Tax Stats - Individual Income Tax Returns Publication 1304, Table 2.5. Notes: Detail does not add to total because of rounding. For detail on returns claiming the EITC by AGI and number of qualifying children, see Table A-2. Figure 8. Average EITC Claimed by Tax Filers in 2012, by Number of Qualifying Children Source: Congressional Research Service, based on data from the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Services, SOI Tax Stats - Individual Income Tax Returns Publication 1304, Table 2.5. Notes: For detail on returns claiming the EITC by AGI and number of qualifying children, see Table A-2. Congressional Research Service 15 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Income Level Though the EITC is targeted toward lower-income earners, tax filers with children may receive the EITC even with income well above the poverty level. (The 2012 federal poverty level for a family of three was $19,090 in 2012.) However, the largest EITC benefits are focused on lowincome earners near the poverty line, with those with greater earnings receiving reduced benefits. Figure 9 shows the number of tax returns with EITC claims in 2012 by adjusted gross income level. Figure 9 shows that the most typical (modal) EITC tax return had an AGI between $10,000 and $14,999, with 5.9 million returns including an EITC in that income range for 2012. For that year, close to half of all returns with EITC claims had AGIs below $14,999. This AGI is equivalent to earnings less than the $15,080 earned by a full-time (40 hour per week) full-year (52 weeks per year) worker earning the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour). Figure 9 also shows the average EITC claimed by AGI category. Average EITC benefits first increase with AGI, then decline. This outcome reflects the formula for determining the EITC, which provides an increasing credit up to a maximum amount, then ultimately a reduced credit as it is phased out above a certain income threshold (see Table 1 and Figure 2). It also reflects a difference in the mix of family types claiming the EITC in the various AGI categories. For example, two-thirds of all filers claiming the EITC with AGIs of less than $5,000 had no qualifying children. All those claiming the EITC at AGIs above $20,000 in 2012 had qualifying children, and hence were eligible for a larger maximum EITC benefit than filers without children. For detail on returns claiming the EITC by AGI and number of qualifying children, see Table A2. Congressional Research Service 16 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Figure 9. Number of Returns Claiming the EITC and Average EITC Claimed for 2012, by Adjusted Gross Income Numbers in Millions and Dollars in 2012 $ Source: Congressional Research Service, based on data from the U.S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Services, SOI Tax Stats - Individual Income Tax Returns Publication 1304, Table 2.5. Notes: For detail on returns claiming the EITC by AGI and number of qualifying children, see Table A-2. Filing and Marital Status The Internal Revenue Service does not provide data on EITC dollars claimed by filing status. The Tax Policy Center (TPC), however, projects that in 2015, 70% of all EITC dollars will be claimed by unmarried tax filers (head of household and single filing statuses), with most (60% of all EITC dollars) claimed by those filing as heads of household. (The TPC projections are likely similar to the actual amounts of the EITC claimed by filing status in 2013 and 2014, given that they are based on the same credit formula.) Figure 10 shows projections for EITC dollars claimed by filing status for 2015. Congressional Research Service 17 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Figure 10. Estimate of EITC Dollars Claimed by Marital Status, 2015 Dollars in Billions Source: Congressional Research Service, based on estimates from the Urban-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center Table T13-0274, available at http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/numbers/index.cfm. Estimates are for tax year 2015. Region In 2012, the EITC was claimed on 19.2% of all tax returns. However, the rate at which the EITC is claimed by tax filers varies considerably by state. In 2012, the state with the highest percentage of returns claiming the EITC was Mississippi, with the credit claimed on 32.4% of all returns. In contrast, the EITC was claimed on 12.2% of all returns in New Hampshire that year. Figure 11 provides a map showing the percentage of all tax returns claiming the EITC by state. In addition to considerable state variation, the map shows that there is a regional pattern to EITC receipt. A greater share of returns filed in certain southern states claimed the EITC than returns in other regions of the country. The EITC was claimed on the smallest percentage of returns in New England as well as some states in the northern Midwest. Congressional Research Service 18 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Figure 11. Percentage of Tax Returns Claiming the EITC by State, 2012 Source: Congressional Research Service, based on data from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Note: For detail on EITC returns by state, see Table A-3. Congressional Research Service 19 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Appendix. Additional Tables Table A-1. EITC Tax Filers and Dollars Claimed: 1975-2012 In Millions of Nominal $ Nominal $ In Millions of Constant 2012 $ Constant 2012 $ Tax Filers Claiming the EITC (Millions) Total EITC Refunded EITC Average EITC Total EITC Refunded EITC Average EITC 1975 6.215 $1,250 $900 $201 $5,334 $3,841 $858 1976 6.473 1,295 890 200 5,225 3,591 807 1977 5.627 1,127 880 200 4,270 3,334 758 1978 5.192 1,048 801 202 3,690 2,821 711 1979 7.135 2,052 1,395 288 6,489 4,412 911 1980 6.954 1,986 1,370 286 5,534 3,817 797 1981 6.717 1,912 1,278 285 4,829 3,228 720 1982 6.395 1,775 1,222 278 4,223 2,907 661 1983 7.368 1,795 1,289 244 4,138 2,971 562 1984 6.376 1,638 1,162 257 3,620 2,568 568 1985 7.432 2,088 1,499 281 4,455 3,199 600 1986 7.156 2,009 1,479 281 4,209 3,098 589 1987 8.738 3,391 2,930 388 6,853 5,922 784 1988 11.148 5,896 4,257 529 11,443 8,262 1,027 1989 11.696 6,595 4,636 564 12,211 8,584 1,044 1990 12.542 7,542 5,266 601 13,249 9,251 1,056 1991 13.665 11,105 8,183 813 18,720 13,794 1,370 1992 14.097 13,028 9,959 924 21,320 16,297 1,512 1993 15.117 15,537 12,028 1,028 24,687 19,111 1,633 1994 19.017 21,105 16,598 1,110 32,696 25,714 1,720 1995 19.334 25,956 20,829 1,343 39,103 31,379 2,023 1996 19.464 28,825 23,157 1,481 42,180 33,886 2,167 1997 19.391 30,389 24,396 1,567 43,471 34,898 2,242 1998 20.273 32,340 27,175 1,595 45,553 38,277 2,247 1999 19.259 31,901 27,604 1,656 43,963 38,041 2,282 2000 19.277 32,296 27,803 1,675 43,060 37,070 2,233 2001 19.593 35,784 29,043 1,826 46,391 37,652 2,367 2002 21.574 37,786 33,258 1,751 48,224 42,445 2,235 Year Congressional Research Service 20 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Nominal $ In Millions of Nominal $ In Millions of Constant 2012 $ Constant 2012 $ Tax Filers Claiming the EITC (Millions) Total EITC Refunded EITC Average EITC Total EITC Refunded EITC Average EITC 2003 22.112 39,186 34,508 1,772 48,896 43,059 2,211 2004 22.270 40,024 35,299 1,797 48,646 42,903 2,184 2005 22.752 42,410 37,465 1,864 49,857 44,044 2,191 2006 23.042 44,388 39,072 1,926 50,552 44,498 2,193 2007 24.584 48,540 42,508 1,974 53,749 47,070 2,186 2008 24.756 50,669 44,260 2,047 54,032 47,198 2,183 2009 27.041 59,240 53,985 2,191 63,398 57,774 2,345 2010 27.368 59,562 54,256 2,176 62,714 57,127 2,291 2011 27.912 62,906 55,350 2,254 64,208 56,495 2,301 2012 27.848 64,129 56,190 2,303 64,129 56,190 2,303 Year Source: Congressional Research Service. For pre-2003 data, U.S. Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means, 2004 Green Book, Background Material and Data on Programs Within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means, 108th Congress, 2nd session, WMCP 108-6, March 2004, pp.13-41. For 2003 and later data, Internal Revenue Service, Total File, United States, Individual Income and Tax Data, by State and Size of Adjusted Gross Income, 2003 through 2012, expanded unpublished version, Table 2.5. Notes: Constant 2012 dollars were computed using the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPIU). Table A-2. Average EITC, Number of Returns with EITC Claimed, and Total EITC Benefits for 2012, by Adjusted Gross Income AGI Totals No Qualifying Children One Qualifying Child Two Qualifying Children Three or More Qualifying Children Average Credit Less than $5,000 $576 $213 $1,189 $1,530 $1,921 $5,000 to $9,999 1,556 391 2,696 3,015 3,364 $10,000 to $14,999 2,600 177 3,061 4,816 5,339 $15,000 to $19,999 3,949 153 2,983 4,999 5,695 $20,000 to $24,999 3,480 0 2,400 4,280 5,150 $25,000 to $29,999 2,676 0 1,681 3,345 4,160 $30,000 to $34,999 1,818 0 953 2,378 3,168 $35,000 to $39,999 1,289 0 461 1,421 2,155 $40,000 to $44,999 884 0 151 790 1,291 $45,000 and higher 413 0 0 233 541 Congressional Research Service 21 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview AGI Totals Totals 2,303 No Qualifying Children 267 One Qualifying Child Two Qualifying Children 2,245 3,547 Three or More Qualifying Children 3,872 Total Returns with EITC Less than $5,000 2,719,962 1,861,313 525,562 236,562 96,525 $5,000 to $9,999 5,034,896 2,619,274 1,704,317 514,144 197,161 $10,000 to $14,999 5,857,902 2,141,826 1,880,398 1,348,810 486,868 $15,000 to $19,999 3,948,005 252,887 1,654,402 1,439,950 600,766 $20,000 to $24,999 2,974,327 0 1,493,992 987,724 492,611 $25,000 to $29,999 2,568,970 0 1,239,825 905,408 423,737 $30,000 to $34,999 2,155,201 0 1,045,183 751,737 358,281 $35,000 to $39,999 1,504,188 0 500,027 619,798 384,363 $40,000 to $44,999 795,285 0 125,419 360,640 309,226 $45,000 and higher 289,528 0 0 120,318 169,210 7,285,091 3,518,749 Totals 27,848,264 6,873,296 10,169,124 Total EITC Claimed ($ in thousands) Less than $5,000 1,567,791 395,924 624,644 361,832 185,391 $5,000 to $9,999 7,831,839 1,022,956 4,595,499 1,550,146 663,238 $10,000 to $14,999 15,231,655 379,584 5,756,226 6,496,441 2,599,404 $15,000 to $19,999 15,592,358 38,705 4,934,283 7,197,775 3,421,595 $20,000 to $24,999 10,349,383 0 3,585,622 4,227,050 2,536,711 $25,000 to $29,999 6,874,789 0 2,083,753 3,028,379 1,762,657 $30,000 to $34,999 3,918,956 0 996,354 1,787,582 1,135,020 $35,000 to $39,999 1,939,214 0 230,292 880,532 828,390 $40,000 to $44,999 703,080 0 18,899 285,023 399,158 $45,000 and higher 119,563 0 0 28,013 91,550 Totals 64,128,627 1,837,168 22,825,570 25,842,774 13,623,115 Source: Congressional Research Service, based on data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Services, SOI Tax Stats - Individual Income Tax Returns Publication 1304, Table 2.5. Congressional Research Service 22 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Table A-3. Total EITC Returns and Amounts for 2012, by State Total Returns Returns with EITC Claimed Percentage of Total Returns with EITC Claimed Total EITC Claimed ($ in thousands) Average EITC Percentage of EITC Refunded 145,025,450 27,788,100 19.2% $64,221,884 $2,311 87.8% 2,050,890 537,470 26.2 1,417,969 2,638 90.0 Alaska 363,090 51,800 14.3 101,907 1,967 90.5 Arizona 2,761,490 582,750 21.1 1,409,991 2,420 89.1 Arkansas 1,219,480 312,090 25.6 764,025 2,448 90.0 California 16,909,110 3,209,680 19.0 7,289,949 2,271 84.9 Colorado 2,450,150 372,800 15.2 775,244 2,080 87.7 Connecticut 1,741,480 222,010 12.7 453,493 2,043 87.7 Delaware 434,150 74,540 17.2 165,527 2,221 91.1 District of Columbia 327,730 55,410 16.9 122,917 2,218 87.0 Florida 9,226,420 2,160,410 23.4 5,099,789 2,361 86.7 Georgia 4,335,320 1,124,330 25.9 2,900,740 2,580 88.1 Hawaii 665,320 114,580 17.2 240,483 2,099 90.3 Idaho 679,220 140,040 20.6 308,166 2,201 89.0 Illinois 6,077,090 1,048,420 17.3 2,451,585 2,338 86.8 Indiana 3,029,600 564,020 18.6 1,273,387 2,258 89.8 Iowa 1,426,710 216,730 15.2 452,305 2,087 89.4 Kansas 1,323,740 221,240 16.7 487,372 2,203 90.5 Kentucky 1,879,100 415,170 22.1 940,851 2,266 89.2 Louisiana 2,011,770 541,930 26.9 1,422,469 2,625 89.5 631,380 105,710 16.7 205,791 1,947 86.6 Maryland 2,860,930 425,080 14.9 930,605 2,189 86.6 Massachusetts 3,264,490 413,580 12.7 809,976 1,958 88.0 Michigan 4,631,040 846,240 18.3 1,942,605 2,296 87.4 Minnesota 2,619,920 354,700 13.5 718,338 2,025 88.5 Mississippi 1,250,140 405,570 32.4 1,096,524 2,704 90.4 Missouri 2,728,430 536,500 19.7 1,222,335 2,278 89.7 Montana 485,250 85,000 17.5 169,861 1,998 88.6 Nebraska 871,940 139,270 16.0 303,218 2,177 89.8 1,289,360 244,230 18.9 553,790 2,267 88.8 679,910 82,990 12.2 153,548 1,850 86.7 New Jersey 4,307,560 599,320 13.9 1,302,425 2,173 86.4 New Mexico 905,340 222,270 24.6 511,475 2,301 90.9 State or Area U.S. Totala Alabama Maine Nevada New Hampshire Congressional Research Service 23 The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): An Overview Total Returns Returns with EITC Claimed Percentage of Total Returns with EITC Claimed Total EITC Claimed ($ in thousands) Average EITC Percentage of EITC Refunded New York 9,363,750 1,797,030 19.2 3,989,000 2,220 85.1 North Carolina 4,287,590 950,320 22.2 2,249,232 2,367 89.3 North Dakota 353,830 44,410 12.6 87,796 1,977 89.9 Ohio 5,507,560 982,370 17.8 2,236,340 2,276 89.2 Oklahoma 1,618,460 350,380 21.6 822,032 2,346 89.4 Oregon 1,768,810 292,600 16.5 586,432 2,004 88.7 Pennsylvania 6,134,120 942,080 15.4 1,976,028 2,098 89.7 Rhode Island 512,930 84,090 16.4 181,446 2,158 88.4 South Carolina 2,077,310 507,210 24.4 1,222,899 2,411 90.1 South Dakota 414,950 67,060 16.2 138,866 2,071 90.8 Tennessee 2,882,040 673,000 23.4 1,612,235 2,396 87.9 Texas 11,573,440 2,702,180 23.3 6,923,938 2,562 87.4 Utah 1,174,090 202,600 17.3 456,422 2,253 89.6 321,250 47,360 14.7 85,885 1,813 85.4 Virginia 3,811,070 624,030 16.4 1,373,900 2,202 89.0 Washington 3,244,400 464,370 14.3 957,018 2,061 89.2 788,490 159,830 20.3 341,134 2,134 91.5 Wisconsin 2,778,100 400,280 14.4 833,561 2,082 89.2 Wyoming 301,660 41,380 13.7 81,641 1,973 90.3 Other Areas 674,050 29,660 4.4 67,421 2,273 96.8 State or Area Vermont West Virginia Source: Congressional Research Service, based on data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Individual Income and Tax Data, by State and Size of Adjusted Gross Income. a. Totals in this table differ slightly from total shown in Table A-2. While the figures in Table A-2 and Table A-3 are both based on data from the IRS, thee data in Table A-3 includes “substitutes for returns” in which the IRS constructs tax returns for certain non-filers. Author Contact Information Gene Falk Specialist in Social Policy gfalk@crs.loc.gov, 7-7344 Margot L. Crandall-Hollick Analyst in Public Finance mcrandallhollick@crs.loc.gov, 7-7582 Acknowledgments CRS graphics specialist Jamie Hutchinson created the figures in this report. Congressional Research Service 24